Are you a fan of super-expensive, dutifully plotted, follow-the-formula, steady-as-she-goes tentpole reboots? The kind of flamboyant, highly energized, basically bullshit popcorn fantasies that most of us are cool with on occasion. And if not, do you at least feel a fondness for wackazoid, over-the-top, throw-out-the-rulebook, crazier-than-fuck endings? If so, you’ll most likely have a place in your heart for Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (Disney, 6.30), which I managed to see this morning at 8:30 am.

Does Dial of Destiny have a soul? Does it move and breathe with something other than mere technical expertise and the relative comfort of a massive budget? The answer is “yeah, kinda” in the sense that imagination-wise it jumps off a cliff at the very end, and that, in itself, constitutes a kind of agreeable, Jesus H. Christ craziness that only screenwriters who’ve done psychedelic drugs could have come up with. (The writers are Jez Butterworth, John-Henry Butterworth, David Koepp and director James Mangold.)

I was obliged to sit in heaven (near the top of the Grand Lumiere balcony, which is angled at 45 degrees) and there was no leg room to speak of. For most of the 142-minute running time my knees were screaming. But I felt diverted and occasionally amused and…I don’t know, placated by this big, noisy, unsurprising, throughly whorish and very handsomely shot old-schooler — an imitation Steven Spielberg tentpole film that feels like it could have been made in 1992 or ’95 or ’01 if 2023-level CG had been available, and if 80-year-old Harrison Ford had been (duhh) 30 years younger, which wouldn’t have gotten in the way of anything plot-wise.

The pans that broke last night were written by soreheads. It is what it is, and it delivers the hand-me-down goods in a way that very few will find bothersome or underwhelming.

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny is a mega-budget serving of silly, rousing, formulaic, high-energy, fuck-all Hollywood wankery. If you pay to see it with that understanding in mind, it’s “fun” as far it goes, largely, I would say, because it also feels oddly classy…a well-ordered, deliciously well-cut exercise in which Mangold does a better-than-decent job of imitating Spielberg’s psychology, discipline, camera placements, cutting style, easy-to-follow plotting and generally pleasing performances.

In his 5.18 review, Irish Times critic Donald Clarke writes that “nobody with a brain in their heads will compare Dial of Destiny favorably to the first three films.” He’s right about that, but it’s definitely better than 2008’s Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. That may not sound like much, I realize, but at least it has this distinction.

The plot is basically another “Indiana Jones vs. frosty, cold-blooded Nazi fiends in search of a priceless archeological artifact” thing. Ford is steady, restrained and solemnly earnest in a gruff (okay, grumpy-ass) sort of way. Mads Mikkelsen is the chief German baddy-waddy, Phoebe Waller-Bridge is Indy’s younger half & partner in adventure and derring-do, Ethann Isidore is the new “Short Round” (the spunky Temple of Doom character, played by a young Ke Huy Quan) and so on.

One minor HE complaint: Waller-Bridge’s feisty-grifter character, Helena Shaw, is said to be the daughter of Toby Jones‘ Basil Shaw. There is, of course, no way on God’s good, green, chromosonal earth that the short, pudgy, gnome-like Jones (who stands 5’5″) could be the biological dad of the leggy, wafer-thin PWB (who stands just under 5’10”). No way in hell. I bought the crazy ending in a “is this really happening?” sort of way, but not this.